The Consequences of Diglossia in the Cultural Habits of a Minority Language: Analysing the Consumption of Basque Culture

By Harkaitz Zubiri.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper analyses the problems of a minority language when it faces a diglossic situation. The paper focuses on the data about the Basque language, which is a minority language in a diglossic situation. The analysis of the cultural habits concerning Basque provides very interesting information about the health of the language. Basque does exist in the field of culture: its figures are small but significant. This is an important fact. However, it suffers diglossia. This is caused by the small size of the speech community and the adverse power relationship with the other two languages in contact, Spanish and French. In fact, cultural habits reflect the general situation: in the last 40 years, the Basque speech community has gained around 300.000 new members. It has become a speech community formed by around 800.000 speakers in an area inhabited by 3.015.558, but still only 25% of the population is bilingual, that is to say, able to speak and understand Basque and either Spanish or French. All inhabitants are either Spanish or French speakers. Besides, the situation is still worse than what it seems, because bilinguals are not only members of a minority language but also actors of a diglossic context in which the majority of bilinguals do not give priority to Basque but to either Spanish or French. The results of our research suggest that the recovery process has achieved certain goals, but the still obvious weaknesses endanger potential recovery development in the future.

Keywords: Diglossia, Minority Language, Cultural Habits, Basque Language

Global Studies Journal, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.67-77. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 391.625KB).

Dr. Harkaitz Zubiri

Assistant Professor, Department of Didactics and School Organisation, University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian, Spain, Spain

Harkaitz Zubiri (San Sebastian, Basque Country, 1977) is an assistant professor of the University of the Basque Country. He studied at Leipzig University, graduated in English philology at the University of Deusto, and graduated in sociology and teaching and received a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of the Basque Country. He had a four years doctorate research grant from the Basque Government. He is interested in social inequality, minority language and culture, education, literature and working conditions. He has published three books: Zakur Kale (Susa, 2007), short stories about contemporary life; Bertsolaritza. Tradizio Modernoa (University of the Basque Country, 2007) an essay on the current Basque oral literature; and Ibilbide akademiko-profesionalak prekarizazio estratifikatuaren garaian. Meritokrazia auzitan (University of the Basque Country, 2011), an essay on meritocracy.


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